Chief Justice defends judge in Berry custody case

In wake of murders, Justice Gray faces criticism for granting Berry access to girls on Christmas Eve

In the wake of the Christmas Day double homicide of Chloe Berry, 6, and Aubrey Berry, 4, criticism has arisen around Justice Victoria Gray’s decision to grant the girls’ father, now charged with their murders, the right to have the girls visit him on Christmas Eve.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson spoke up yesterday in defence of Gray in an interview with Global News. He reportedly didn’t think evidence brought before the judge in a 2016 custody trial could have suggested the father was likely to commit the crime — if in fact he did. The criticism of the judge that followed the tragedy is unfair in his opinion.

Hinkson also mentioned that Justice Gray was not responsible for assessing Berry’s fitness to visit with his girls, but instead to figure out the logistical issues around shared custody.

While the Chief Justice declined further comment, Oak Bay News reached out to Family Law Mediator and Arbitrator, Trudi Brown. Brown has not represented either party, but is familiar with the case.

“I think the Chief was saying all of the right things — these are not easy decisions and there was no evidence that (Berry) was a danger,” said Brown. “I can tell you that it appears — from my read of the court decision in May 2017 — that hindsight is playing a big role in the responses.”

Custody decisions are perhaps the hardest for judges, according to Brown, as they are faced with evidence from both parties that conflicts. There are seldom third parties who can substantiate the allegations made by either side.

“It would appear that the father had some serious issues,” said Brown. “Which may have grown worse after the decision and long after the judge had seen him. He may have been able to hide those issues from the wife and other people.”

RELATED: Counsel stresses presumption of innocence in Oak Bay murder case

“In this case, the parties did all the right things to start — mediation, use of divorce coaches, and eventually reaching agreements. The mother had some serious concerns about the father’s care of the children, and those were aired at court, but she did not oppose him having the girls overnight, so long as it was not more than one night at a time so that she could monitor how the children were doing,” said Brown. “The father wanted week on, week off parenting and that was not granted by the court.”

On Christmas Day, Chloe and Aubrey were in the care of their father at his apartment on the corner of Beach Drive and Goodwin Street. The children were supposed to go home to their mother’s house on Christmas afternoon but didn’t arrive. Their mother, Sarah Cotton, contacted Oak Bay police who responded to Berry’s apartment and found the bodies of the two girls.

Andrew Berry was found in the apartment with them, suffering from what are believed to be self-inflicted injuries, and was taken to hospital. Berry was then arrested and charged upon release.

He has now secured counsel and will be appearing in court again on Feb.22.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

How to stay safe in the Nakusp backcountry: BCSARA

The B.C. Search and Rescue Association recommends planning, training and taking the essentials

Skier caught in backcountry avalanche near Rossland

‘The man was lucky he had the ‘A-Team’ of ski patrol people able to respond as quickly as they did,’ says Rossland rescue spokesperson

Kootenays unemployment rate best in B.C.

In one year, the region has gone from highest unemployment rate to lowest, at 3.1 per cent

Nakusp search and rescue group seeks volunteers

Senior Nakusp SAR member Ross Shkuratoff says the group is on the lookout for new members

UPDATED: Avalanche control closes Highways 3, 31

Highway 3 between Salmo and Creston expected to be shut down until 4 p.m. Thursday

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Truck hauling compressed gas for ‘virtual pipeline’ crashes on B.C. highway

Driver charged and highway closed for nine hours - containers did not rupture

Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson ‘feeling good’ after knee injury

Pettersson said he wasn’t feeling any pain during Wednesday’s skate

Most Read